I’m a firm believer that all hardcore genre fans should quit watching horror movies. No, not forever, but it’s important for horror aficionados to remain well-rounded cinephiles. Enjoying comedy, drama, documentaries, and action flicks does more than give film fans a worldly perspective, it reveals common denominators that connect all great cinema. It’ll also become apparent that many non-genre flicks are venture further into terror territory as horror becomes increasingly mainstream. And whether gorehounds are willing to admit it or not: Watching horror movies exclusively will make you jaded, lessening your enjoyment of the genre over time.
Related Article: Top 15 Horror Movies of 2017 (So Far)
Not only is 2017 and amazing year for horror movies, it’s a great year for cinema in general. For genre fans looking for some excellent horror-adjacent flicks, I’ve put together the list below. Consider these “almost-horror” movies. While there’s something in each film that will appeal to genre lovers, each is more than a thriller or a creeper. Most importantly, each film will give horror fans an appreciation for the diversity of amazing movies that came our way this year.
Give it a read and let us know what you think in the Comments section! What do you think of the films on this list? Were there any other amazing almost-horror movies released in 2017 that deserve a shout-out? Let’s discuss!
I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore (Directed by Macon Blair)
Official Synopsis: After being burglarized, a depressed woman (Melanie Lynskey) and her obnoxious neighbor set out to find the thieves, but they soon find themselves up against a group of dangerous criminals.
I Don’t Feel at Home in the World Anymore is really funny, but it’s not a comedy; the humor is black and the satire is stabbing. There’s a deadpan exasperation that permeates everything, a mood we can both relate too and enjoy. It builds slowly, but IDFaHiTWA proves itself to be an almost-horror movie in the final act, where a home invasion scenario leads to dismemberment, assassinations, and a whole lot of vomit. The movie also includes a cat and mouse chase that’s as harrowing as anything depicted in a cabin-in-the-woods style thriller or a slasher.
Good Time (Directed by Ben Safdie and Josh Safdie)
Official Synopsis: After a botched bank robbery lands his younger brother in prison, Constantine “Connie” Nikas (Robert Pattinson) embarks on a twisted odyssey through the city’s underworld in an increasingly desperate—and dangerous—attempt to get his brother Nick (Benny Safdie) out of jail. Over the course of one adrenalized night, Connie finds himself on a mad descent into violence and mayhem as he races against the clock to save his brother and himself, knowing their lives hang in the balance.
With Good Time, Robert Pattinson completely transcends the Twilight franchise and all that groan-inducing, sparkling vampire nonsense; this guy is way more than a former teen heartthrob and/or Kristen Stewart’s ex-boyfriend. Good Time will appeal to fans of gritty crime thrillers and character studies that don’t flinch when exploring the darker aspects of human nature. Good Time is a harrowing experience, but it’s also about the lengths people will go to for the love of family.
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War for the Planet of the Apes (Directed by Matt Reeves)
Official Synopsis: Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson). After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet.
War for the Planet of the Apes, the final (?) installment in the rebooted franchise launched in 2011; Rise of the Planet of the Apes was followed by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in 2013. War brings the story of Caesar to a fitting conclusion and aligns everything with the front end of 1968’s Planet of the Apes, making this trilogy a true prequel. Through the three most recent films, we’ve seen society as we know it tip in favor of a new species; we’ve seen mankind attempt to retain control of what was once his dominion and fail miserably. Now, we see a terrified humanity facing complete subjugation, backed into a corner, lashing out like animals; meanwhile, man’s primitive ancestor evolves to a place of supremacy.
The Beguiled (Directed by Sofia Coppola)
Official Synopsis: Cpl. John McBurney is an injured Union soldier who finds himself on the run as a deserter during the Civil War. He seeks refuge at an all-female Southern boarding school where the teachers and students seem more than willing to help. Soon, sexual tensions lead to dangerous rivalries as the women tend to his wounded leg while offering him comfort and companionship.
In Sophia Coppola’s hands, this period piece has echoes of Misery, Audition, and even The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Colossal (Directed by Nacho Vigalondo)
Official Synopsis: Gloria is an out-of-work party girl who leaves New York and moves back to her hometown after getting kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend. When news reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, South Korea, Gloria gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this far-off phenomenon. As events begin to spiral out of control, she must figure out why her seemingly insignificant existence is having such a colossal effect on the fate of the world.
In this kaiju-themed almost-horror movie, director Nacho Vigalondo flips established giant-monster tropes on their heads. What begins as a drunken semi-fantasy descends into a brutal exploration of entropy (or lack thereof), domestic abuse, and emotional blackmail. Believe me, you’ve never seen anything quite like this.
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Sleight (Directed by J.D. Dillard)
Official Synopsis: A young street magician (Jacob Latimore) is left to care for his little sister after their parents passing, and turns to illegal activities to keep a roof over their heads. When he gets in too deep, his sister is kidnapped, and he is forced to use his magic and brilliant mind to save her.
Sleight, written & directed by up-and-comer J.D. Dillard, isn’t exactly a horror movie, but it defies easy classification. The film blazes trails through several genre, one of which is extremely horror-adjacent; there are moments of the film that are absolutely harrowing, dreadful, and nauseatingly suspenseful. This film earns its R-Rating without a single nipple, ass-crack, or even abundant profanity. Ultimately, Sleight speaks to both the arbitrary nature of genre classification and the pervasiveness of horror tropes in all walks of cinema.
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Personal Shopper (Directed by Olivier Assayas)
Official Synopsis: A young American in Paris works as a personal shopper for a celebrity. She seems to have the ability to communicate with spirits, like her recently deceased twin brother. Soon, she starts to receive ambiguous messages from an unknown source.
While people spent passionate hours debating whether or not mother! and/or Ghost Story were actually horror movies, Personal Shopper fell through the cracks. Perhaps it was its arty aesthetic, or knee-jerk aversion to leading lady Kristen Stewart, but genre fans haven’t given this film the scrutiny it deserves. If nothing else, you’ll appreciate a truly original supernatural creeper—one that really makes you think.
Related Article: (SPOILERS) “Personal Shopper” Ending Explained
Boys in Trees (Directed by Nicholas Verso)
Official Synopsis: Alienated teens Corey and Jonah begrudgingly find themselves walking home together on Halloween 1997, their last night of high school. They embark on a journey through their memories, dreams and fears as they lay the ghosts of their past to rest.
Boys in Trees is the tear-jerking, heart-wrenching, nostalgia-stoking coming-of-age horror movie from Australia you didn’t know you were dying to see. It may be light on serious spooks and heavy on drama and exposition, but the film set on Halloween Night in 1997 is an October treat for fans of intelligent and emotional storytelling. I recently reviewed Super Dark Times, another coming-of-age horror set in the 1990’s; but whereas that movie offers a bleak and disheartened view of youth, Boys in Trees is a poignant mix of horror and hope.
Life (Directed by Daniel Espinosa)
Official Synopsis: Astronauts (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds) aboard the International Space Station are on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As members of the crew conduct their research, the rapidly evolving life-form proves far more intelligent and terrifying than anyone could have imagined.
I was so focused on the release of Alien: Covenant, I barely gave Life a second thought when it was released theatrically in March. It was only after my extreme disappointment with Ridley Scott’s Alien-prequel/Prometheus-sequel that I gave Life a spin when it arrived on DVD. It’s not straight-up horror, and the alien is a CGI blob that’s ultimately too pretty to be scary, but Life had the tension, pacing, and claustrophobia Scott’s Covenant missed completely. If Alien: Covenant left you unsatisfied, Life may be just what you need to fill that hole.
Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses (Directed by David Stubbs)
Official Synopsis: The true story of how love, fear, culture and belief lead a loving family to tragically kill one of their own during a four-day exorcism ceremony.
The use of harrowing, stylistic recreations gives this documentary cinematic flair not usually seen in nonfiction movies. And even though the concept of exorcism is approached from a purely academic perspective, Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses is nonetheless a suspenseful and devastating experience.
Jungle (Directed by Greg McLean)
Official Synopsis: A mysterious guide escorts an enthusiastic adventurer and his friend into the Amazon jungle. Their journey turns into a terrifying ordeal as the darkest elements of human nature and the deadliest threats of the wild force them to fight for survival.
Jungle tells the true story of Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg (played by Daniel Radcliff) who was lost in the Amazon for several weeks in the 1980s. Less survival horror than survival drama, Jungle is nonetheless completely engrossing. If you thought Eli Roth’s Green Inferno was over-the-top, Jungle will give you a taste of what it’s really like to be swallowed by an untamed wilderness. It’s also directed by horror heavyweight Greg McLean, the Australian fear practitioner who launched the Wolf Creek franchise in 2005.
The Discovery (Directed by Charlie McDowell)
Official Synopsis: In the near future, due to a breakthrough scientific discovery by Dr. Thomas Harbor, there is now definitive proof of an afterlife. While countless people have chosen suicide to reset their existence, others try to decide what it all means. Among them is Dr. Harbor’s son Will, who has arrived at his father’s isolated compound with a mysterious young woman named Isla. There, they discover the strange acolytes who help Dr. Harbor with his experiments.
Those disappointed by the joyless Flatliners reboot should check out The Discovery for a truly compelling exploration of what lies beyond the veil. It portrays a society plagued by mass suicides following scientific proof of the existence of an afterlife. The Discovery examines how this certainty could permeate every aspect of human existence, set against the backdrop of a budding romance drenched in grief.
iBoy (Directed by Adam Randall)
Official Synopsis: A teenager (Bill Milner) wakes from a coma to discover that fragments from his broken smartphone have been embedded into his brain and turned him into an actualized app with super human powers.
iBoy is a Netflix Original that didn’t get the attention of films like Okja, Gerald’s Game, or 1922, but it’s a unique and compelling film, one that meshes superhero tropes with a rape/revenge motif. iBoy is also an examination of how technology both enhances and endangers our lives. This is a teen-centric, action-packed experience that goes places most mainstream flicks wouldn’t dare.
Catfight (Directed by Onur Tukel)
Official Synopsis: The rivalry between two former college friends comes to a head when they both attend the same glamorous event.
Catfight is as funny as it is dark and will resonate with fans of films like Cheap Thrills and Very Bad Things.
Okja (Official Synopsis: Bong Joon-ho)
Official Synopsis: For 10 idyllic years, young Mija has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja – a massive animal and an even bigger friend – at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when family-owned, multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where an image-obsessed and self-promoting CEO has big plans for Mija’s dearest friend. With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission.
Bong Joon-ho, the filmmaker behind the dystopian thriller Snowpiercer, delivers a film with heart and soul—and a 2-ton super-pig! While Okja has been accused of being pro-vegan propaganda, it’s less of an indictment of meat-eaters than a harsh look at factory farming and GMO’s. Brief slaughterhouse imagery is presented with echoes of the Holocaust, but it’s a scene of forced breeding that’s the emotional low-point. Like other films on this list, Okja defines easy classification and, while horror-adjacent, offers something for all movie fans.